Scouting Way

Location

Cambridge , MA
United States
42° 22' 25.0176" N, 71° 6' 35.0424" W
Massachusetts US

Scouting Way blends historical preservation with new construction and provides 13 affordable family-sized rental units in three buildings (five two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units). Just-A-Start Corporation, a community based not-for-profit, commissioned Boyes-Watson Architects to design an environmentally sensitive, affordable project that maximized the number of new housing units while preserving an existing three-unit Greek Revival House. The home once housed the regional Boy Scout Headquarters, ergo the project's name. Attendees at several design meetings included the Cambridge Historical Society (which also provided funding) and the developer, Just-A-Start Corporation. The project also benefitted from the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act. Scouting Way has acted as a catalyst for subsequent rehabilitations in its relatively depressed urban context.
 
The goals of Scouting Way's site design are multifold: to integrate the development into the surrounding city, to reinforce the street edge along Prospect Street, and to create green areas and a parking court that could serve multiple uses. The project is situated within a five minute walk to the Red Line, a rapid transit line serving the Boston area. The project site was challenging because of its classification as a brownfield due to soil contamination from lead paint and petroleum contamination. These conditions necessitated the installation of an under slab ventilation system with an enhanced vapor barrier to exhaust vapors and prevent build up under the slabs from subsurface soil contamination. The soil contamination eliminated the possibility of sub-grade parking. This resulted in a four-story townhouse over a grade-level garage. Also, in order to expedite the process, the owner requested that the site be designed with the goal of attaining a quick approval from the municipality.
 
Designed as a green building, Scouting Way includes natural ventilation and passive cooling. Operable windows on multiple faces in all the units allow for cross breezes. Existing and new plantings provide shade to the majority of the south facing windows of the new buildings. In order to both reduce water use and manage stormwater, drought-resistant landscaping was designed using pachysandra in place of grass. Stormwater is also managed using a large on-site underground water retention system with ground water recharge, reducing loads on the city stormwater system. To ensure continued proper functioning, the complex's management company was trained on the system. All units at Scouting Way have low-E windows and fluorescent Energy Star light fixtures and Energy Star appliances. In an innovative energy-saving strategy, the project uses an optimized-capacity centralized boiler system for all three buildings.
 
Materials were chosen based on the project's goal of sustainability. Cement clapboards and aluminum clad windows were chosen to increase longevity and decrease maintenance cycles. Damp spray applied cellulose insulation was used for its thermal performance and recycled content. Wood composite decking was installed outside. Recycled gypsum board was used for drywall and Mohawk Carpeting (100% nylon including recycled nylon) was chosen for the floors. A high percentage of coal fly ash and pozzolans were used in the concrete. Low-VOC carpet adhesives were used and low-VOC Benjamin Moore paints were used on both the interior and exterior. In the 10 new units, fiber cement siding was used (Hardiplank siding).
 
Just-A-Start's YouthBuild crew, including youths who have dropped out of high school and are participating in a career development program that includes community service, assisted in the construction of some of the units. A construction waste management plan resulted in 60% of the project waste being diverted from the landfill. Elements were broken down into such categories as plywood, concrete, metals, cardboard, paint, glass, and plastics. The general contractor had to submit monthly management waste reports to ensure plan compliance. To educate residents on the many green and energy efficient features of their homes, a resident manual was provided. Scouting Way won a 2005 Preservation Award from the Cambridge Historical Commission.
 
Jury Comments:
Applaud the stormwater underground retention system.
Remediated brownfield and efficient heating system.
Great example for a mid-size cities/towns urban neighborhood retro-fit for scale/style.

Green Features: 
AIA Green Housing GuidelinesScouting Way
Infill/brownfield/adaptive re-use/high densitySite originally used as a parking lot and classified as a brownfield due to soil contamination from lead paint and petroleum.
Located near public transportationThe project is situated within a five minute walk to Central Square and the red line, a rapid transit line serving the Boston area.
DaylightingExisting and new plantings provide deciduous shade to the majority of the south-facing windows of the new buildings.
High Performance Building Envelope Windows are argon-filled low E. Window frames are made of aluminum and plaid wood Norco windows. Damp spray applied cellulose was employed for insulation. Recycled gypsum board was used for drywall.
Stormwater ManagementDrought-resistant landscaping was designed using pachysandra in place of grass. Stormwater is managed by a large on-site underground water retention system (12,000-gallon jumbo concrete drywall system) with ground water recharge, reducing loads on a stressed city stormwater system.
Energy Efficiency Heating and CoolingThe project includes natural ventilation and passive cooling. Operable windows on multiple faces allow for cross breezes. Plantings provide shade on the south-facing side of the new buildings. The project uses an optimized capacity centralized boiler system for all three buildings.
Energy Star Appliances/LightingThe project is Energy Star rated and funded. All 14 units are equipped with Energy Star light fixtures and appliances. All units were door blower tested.
Recycled Content Materials or Recycling On SiteRecycled gypsum board and carpeting partially made of recycled nylon were used. A high percentage of coal fly ash and pozzolans were used in the concrete. In the 10 new units, renovated fiber cement siding was used. A construction waste management plan was executed in which 60% of project waste was diverted from the landfill during construction. Materials were broken down into categories including plywood, concrete, metals, cardboard, paint, glass, and plastics. The General Contractor had to submit monthly management waste reports to ensure policy compliance.
Limit Emissions/moisture/sound/allergensLow-VOC carpet adhesives and low-VOC paints were used on both the interior and exterior.
Dwelling Type: 
N/A
Number of Units: 
13
State: 
MASSACHUSETTS